Skip to main content

The Roc and Millet

Once there were two brothers who shared the same house. The tall one always listened to his wife and this led to a quarrel with his brother. Summer had come and it was time to sow the tall millet. But the short one had no grain and he therefore asked the tall one if he would lend him some. The tall one commanded his wife to do so. But the wife took the grain, put it in a large pot and boiled it. Then she gave it to the short one. The short one unknowingly went out and sowed the grain on his field. But as the grain had been boiled no shoots sprouted forth. Only one single seed had escaped being cooked entirely; and so a single shoot sprouted up. The short one was hard-working and conscientious by nature and he therefore watered and hoed the shoot all day long. And so it grew up into a mighty tree and it bore a spike as large as a canopy, shading half an acre of land. In autumn it ripened. Then the short one took an axe and chopped down the spike. But no sooner had the spike dropped to the ground than a gigantic roc arrived with a rushing of wings, picked it up in its beak and flew off. The short one ran after it all the way to the edge of the sea.

The bird turned round and addressed him in a human voice: 'Do not harm me. Surely one spike is not worth much to you. East of the sea lies the island of gold and silver. I will carry you there. There you can take as much as you like and become exceedingly rich.'

The short one agreed and climbed on the bird's back. The Bird told him to close his eyes. All he could hear was the rushing of the air past his ears, as though he was travelling through a mighty wind, and below him he could hear the roaring and raging of billowing waves. Presently the bird landed on an island. 'We have arrived,' it said.

Then the short one opened his eyes and looked around him. Everything gleamed and glittered, all was yellow and white. He picked up about a dozen of the smaller lumps and placed them inside his shirt.

'Is that enough?' the roc asked.

'Yes, I have enough,' he replied.

'Well done,' said the bird. 'Moderation will guard you against harm.'

Then the bird took him on its back again and carried him over the sea.

After his return the short one bought himself a good patch of land and became fairly prosperous.

His brother, however, grew envious and taunted him: 'Where did you steal that money?'

The short one told him the whole truth. Then the tall one went home and consulted with his wife.

'Nothing easier,' said the wife. 'I will simply boil the grain again and keep on grain back so it does not get cooked. You will then sow that grain and we shall see what will happen.'

No sooner said than done: sure enough, a single shoot grew up and that shoot bore a single spike, and when harvest time came the roc again appeared and carried it off in its beak. The tall one was delighted and ran after it and the roc again spoke the same words as before and carried the tall one to the island. There he saw mountains of gold and silver all round him. The largest lumps were like mountains, the smaller ones were like bricks and the very small ones like grains of sand. His eyes were blinded by the glitter. He wished that he knew how to move mountains. So he bent down and picked up whatever lumps he could.

The roc said: 'That is enough now! The load is getting too heavy for you.'

'Be patient a little longer,' said the tall one. 'Don't be in such a hurry! I must have a few more pieces.'

And so the time passed.

The roc again urged him to hurry. 'The sun will be up presently,' it said, 'and then all human beings are scorched by its fierce heat.'

'Give me just a little longer,' said the tall one.

But at that instant a red wheel arose mightily. The roc flew into the sea, spread out both its wings and beat the water with them so as to escape the heat. But the tall one was consumed by the sun.

[The story, originally titled "Flesh and blood divided by a woman's words", was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons.

Roc is Chinese Peng (大鹏 Osers transcribed it as Pyong), or Da Peng, it's a mythical giant bird, recorded in the works of Chuang Tzu:
There is also a bird there, named P'eng, with a back like Mount T'ai and wings like clouds filling the sky. He beats the whirlwind, leaps into the air, and rises up ninety thousand li, cutting through the clouds and mist, shouldering the blue sky, and then he turns his eyes south and prepares to journey to the southern darkness.
Chuang Tzu contrasted Peng with cicada, little turtledove or pigeon, and quail, to expound his arguments thatLittle understanding cannot come up to great understanding; the short-lived cannot come up to the long-lived.

The moral of this story is simple, which was delivered by the giant bird, the roc said, "Moderation will guard you from harm." Greedy can do damage to a person, even cause death. The two brothers are very similar to those of Alibaba and the Forty Robbers, The elder brother were too greedy to remember the magical word, so he lost his life.]


Popular posts from this blog

The wonderful pear-tree

Once upon a time a countryman came into the town on market-day, and brought a load of very special pears with him to sell. He set up his barrow in a good corner, and soon had a great crowd round him ; for everyone knew he always sold extra fine pears, though he did also ask an extra high price. Now, while he was crying up his fruit, a poor, old, ragged, hungry-looking priest stopped just in front of the barrow, and very humbly begged him to give him one of the pears. But the countryman, who was very mean and very nasty-tempered, wouldn't hear of giving him any, and as the priest didn't seem inclined to move on, he began calling him all the bad names he could think of. " Good sir," said the priest, " you have got hundreds of pears on your barrow. I only ask you for one. You would never even know you had lost one. Really, you needn't get angry." "Give him a pear that is going bad ; that will make him happy," said one of the crowd. "The o

The Legend of The Three-Life Stone

The Buddhist believe metempsychosis, or the migration of the souls of animated beings, people's relationships are predestined through three states of life: the past, present, and future life. Legend has it that there's a road called Yellow Spring Road, which leads to Fogotten River. Over the river there's a bridge called Helpless Bridge (Naihe Bridge), at one end of the bridge sits a crimson stone called Three-life Stone. When two people die, they take this route to reincarnation. if they carve their name on the Three-life Stone together while they pass the stone, they are to be predestined to be together in their future life. Although before their rebirth they will be given a MengPo Soup to drink and thereby their memory of past life are obliterated. In reality, San-Sheng Shi (三生石), or Three-Life Stone is located beside Flying Mountain near the West Lake, Hangzhou. On the stone, there is seal with three Chinese characters that say "The Three-life Stone," and a

The Fox and The Tiger

ONE day a fox encountered a tiger. The tiger showed his fangs and waved his claws and wanted to eat him up. But the fox said: 'Good sir, you must not think that you alone are the king of beasts. Your courage is no match for mine. Let us go together and you keep behind me. If the humans are not afraid of me when they see me, then you may eat me up.' The tiger agreed and so the fox led him to a big high-way. As soon as the travellers saw the tiger in the distance they were seized with fear and ran away. Then the said: 'You see? I was walking in front; they saw me before they could See you.' Then the tiger put his tail between his legs and ran away. The tiger had seen that the humans were afraid of the fox but he had not realized that the fox had merely borrowed his own terrible appearance. [This story was translated by Ewald Osers from German, published by George Bell & Sons, in the book 'Chinese Folktales'.  Osers noted that this story was